Zana beats Pinot while Roglic and Thomas gain 20 seconds on Almeida
Zana won a tight sprint finish over Pinot to take the eighteenth Giro stage. The hard finish that the riders had to face shook the race of the favorites. Despite the doubts that Roglic generated at certain moments, the Slovenian was robust and without fissures, but Thomas replied without problems and retains the lead. Almeida lost 21 seconds.
Zana takes the stage, Pinot the maglia azzurra and Almeida loses 20 seconds overall
The eighteenth stage was one of the highlights of this Giro. 161 kilometers that ended in Val di Zoldo after a final stretch in which three passes were concentrated: a first category and two second. Now the Giro was entering its decisive phase and all the spotlights were on Roglic, who had the opportunity to attack and recover from what happened on Monte Bondone.
As soon as the stage started the attacks to consolidate the breakaway began. But the initial impetus was insufficient to make the breakaway a reality and the bulk of riders arrived together to the first major challenge of the day. Passo della Crosetta. 11.6 km at 7.1%.
Jumbo showed a voracious hunger early on, setting a high pace when the road pointed upwards that left the peloton at around forty riders. Shortly before, Healy had given up a little.
The Irishman's weakness gave Pinot an appetite for the mountains classification. The Groupama rider rode with Zana, Paret-Peintre, Frigo and Gee at the front of the stage. Pronskiy was in no man's land 21 seconds behind and 21 seconds ahead of a group of four chasers. The peloton was 1:10 behind.
Pinot completed the effort to crown in first position the port to stay only 10 points behind Healy. Ineos Grenadiers also showed off his skills on the ramps in a clear warning to Roglic and company.
107 km to the finish. The lead, made up of seven riders, had a gap of nearly two minutes on the peloton.
Next pass and again Pinot at the front. The race then entered a flat where the peloton cut back to within about 2:20 with 70 kilometers to go. Ineos took responsibility for pulling, although the breakaway pedaled harder and increased the gap to 4 minutes soon after.
The monotony settled on the riders, aware that they had to conserve their strength for the tough finish ahead. The race was uneventful except for the intermediate sprint taken by Derek Gee.
Time for Paret-Peintre, Pronskiy, Pinot, Frigo, Gee, Barguil and Zana to increase the pace and pull away from the peloton to 5 minutes.
Roglic, for his part, seemed to show signs of not being at his best, although with the final climbs to go it was still too early to rule out the Slovenian's resurgence.
From here the quadriceps were accumulating unevenness with each pedal stroke. 8 km to the finish. Pinot, Gee and Zana were in the lead; Barguil 5 seconds behind; Paret-Peintre and Frigo 30 seconds behind; the peloton more than 4 minutes behind.
Movement in the group of favorites left Almeida trailing by almost 20 seconds. The Portuguese rider did not throw in the towel and gradually closed the gap to the group of Roglic and Thomas, which also included Kuss and Dunbar.
Roglic changes pace before Almeida approaches. Thomas replies and Kuss arrives.
Ahead, Pinot and Zana had already spent a few kilometers alone at the controls of the stage, which would decide the victory between the two. An impressive Almeida -helped by an impeccable Vine- did the impossible to catch Roglic and Thomas.
Final stretch. Pinot in front. Zana on his wheel. The Italian had one more point of energy and was able to reach the finish line with his arms raised to take the victory in a sprint that was decided by very little. Pinot had to settle for second place but completed a great day in which he took the maglia azzurra.
Roglic arrived at 1'56" with Thomas hooked to his wheel to blow out the sails -37 years old- with the maglia rosa and present his credentials to hold on to it until the end. Almeida, meanwhile, suffered at the end and lost 20 seconds to the other two favorites.
Stage 18 Classification
- Filippo Zana (Team Jayco AlUla) 4h25'12"
- Thibaut Pinot (Groupama) +00"
- Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic) +50"
- Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) 1'03"
- Aurelien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen Team) +1'24"
- Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech) +1'24"
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1'56’’
- Geraint Thomas (INEOS-Grenadiers) +1'56"
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +2'17"
- Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AIUIa) +2'32"
- Geraint Thomas (INEOS-Grenadiers) 76h25'51"
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +29’’
- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +39"
- Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AIUIa) +3'39"
- Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) +3’51’’
- Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) +4’27’’
- Thibaut Pinot (Groupama) +4'43"
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) +4’47’’
- Thymen Arensman (INEOS-Grenadiers) +4’53’’
- Laurens De Plus (INEOS-Grendiers) +5’52’’